To generate awareness for the Samaritan’s Feet organization, the coaching staffs of UCLA and Loyola Marymount paced the sidelines barefoot throughout Sunday’s game. But the Bruins made it clear they weren’t worried about stepping on any toes.
No. 19 UCLA jumped out to an early lead, defeating Loyola Marymount (5-4) 86-66.
After allowing the Lions to hang around for the first few minutes, the Bruins finally pulled away, as their stifling defense fueled 12-2 and 9-0 runs.
“Defense and rebounding. Bottom line,” coach Cori Close said.
“We have very talented offensive players and when we’re able to get the ball off the backboard and get quick outlets and go out and run. We have creative players.”
With an apparent height advantage, UCLA was able to win the rebounding battle with ease.
“I think that we just had a sense for the ball. We’ve really been working on it in practice and I think that we were able to apply most of that from the practice to the game. So I think overall, our team did a great job on the boards,” said senior forward Alyssia Brewer.
The Bruins’ dominance in rebounding led to easy offensive success and some gaudy stat lines. Five Bruins finished with double-digit scoring, including senior forward Markel Walker, who finished just three assists shy of a triple double. But, consistent with the team’s philosophy, Walker was more concerned about how to improve than her statistics.
“I didn’t even know. I pay attention more to my turnovers than I do to my assists. But I was just trying to find my teammates and give them good opportunities to score,” Walker said.
While the individual numbers were there, it was a team win for UCLA (4-1), with both the starters and bench players making contributions.
“I think to the extent that they’re able to be a real spark off the bench would be a huge lift for us going into Pac-12 play as well as into the NCAA tournament. To build and depend on those people to give you quality minutes, it’s just a huge thing,” Close said.
For the Bruins, the win was important in that it showcased the team’s continued improvement. The most notable area was free-throw shooting, as UCLA entered the game with the Pac-12′s second-worst foul shooting team.
“It’s actually one of our goals every single game is to make more free throws than our opponents attempt,” Close said. “It reflects our aggressiveness, our purpose and knowing what our strengths are.”
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